There was a curious editorial in the Irish Examiner last Saturday warning readers not to ‘deride and sneer’ at the putting on public display the body of Padre Pio.
The writer claims that the faithful, by visiting the body, are making a statement about their belief, that they ‘still believe in a faith challenged by scandal and undermined by the mores of the day’.
This, in my opinion, is a weak argument for justifying what is a bizarre and exploitative act. Let’s analyse the motives of those involved.
The hundreds of thousands of people who visit the body do so principally for two reasons. Firstly, they have a strong faith and wish to express that faith by paying homage to what is now considered to be one the superstars of the Catholic Church.
Secondly, they are motivated by self interest. Most of them are hopeful that by looking at or touching something connected to the body they will be cured of a medical condition or have some other problem in their lives resolved.
Antonio Zimbaldi (19) whose entire body was burned in a fire is a good example: “He knows what I want from him.” he said.
The Catholic Church:
The Catholic Church teaches that the body is merely a container for the soul and that after death it is just an empty husk. Centuries ago, however, the church realised that most people were superstitious and successfully set out to exploit this natural human tendency.
Let’s be blunt about this; the digging up and putting on display of this dead body is all about money.
Over the years countless millions will be extracted from desperate people who have been fooled into thinking that the Catholic Church can, through the agency of a rotting corpse, defy the scientific laws of nature and provide them with a miraculous cure.
The desperate unfortunates who are exploited by this scam should not be derided or sneered at but the Catholic Church as an organisation certainly should be.